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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > Hebrides > Outer Hebrides > Harris > Tarbert (Harris)

Tarbert

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CalMac Ferry, Tarbert

Tarbert is a village on Harris in Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Tarbert is a small picturesque village with a population of just over 500. It is the main town and ferry terminal for the Island of Harris. Its central location makes it an ideal base for anybody wanting to tour both Harris and Lewis. The council operate an excellent and frequent bus service from Tarbert during the summer months.

Get in[edit]

By boat: Calmac ferries sail year-round once or twice a day between Uig on Skye and 1 Tarbert, taking just under two hours. Reserve a few weeks ahead if you are taking a vehicle, but foot passengers are unlikely to need reservations. Buses from Glasgow connect with the ferries at Uig.

Other routes are from Ullapool on the mainland to Stornoway on Lewis then south by road; or to North / South Uist then by ferry to Leverburgh on Harris and go north by road.

By bus: There are five buses M-Sa between Tarbert and Stornoway, taking 75 min. A linked bus / ferry service runs up the Western Isles through Barra, the Uists and Harris and across Lewis to Stornoway, so M-Sa it's possible to go the whole way in one day. To do so northbound you need to set off from Castlebay on Barra at 06:20, but for Harris you could leave it till 10:20, reaching Lochboisedale South Uist at 13:20, Benbecula at 15:00, Lochmaddy North Uist at 15:30 and Leverburgh on Harris at 17:00 then Tarbert at 17:30. Going south, you need to leave Stornoway at 09:30 to go the whole route, and leave Tarbert at 10:45, Lochmaddy at 13:45, Benbecula at 14:25 and Lochboisdale at 15:25 reaching Castlebay at 17:35.

Get around[edit]

Map of Tarbert (Harris)

Tarbert can easily be explored on foot, but you needs wheels to get anywhere in rugged North Harris.

No Sunday buses; M-Sa Bus W10 runs along A859 six times, Bus W11 runs 2-3 times between Tarbert and Rhenigidale. Bus W12 runs 3-4 times between Tarbert, Amhuinnsuidhe and Huishinish. Bus W14 runs 3-4 times between Tarbert and Scalpay.

See[edit]

  • Huisinish is along B887 west of Tarbert. Along the road notice the old whaling station, then you can't avoid noticing Amhuinnsuidhe Castle (see Sleep) since the public road crosses their lawn and front doorstep. (No stopping here, it's residents only, and alas they don't do afternoon teas for passers-by.) At Huishnish, the Gateway is a small modern shelter with toilets. Look out for wildlife along the coast.
  • Scalpay of Harris (to distinguish it from Scalpay off Skye) is an island connected by bridge to Harris, ten miles east of Tarbert. There's a village with a bistro and a few B&Bs. From the end of the lane you can walk to 1 Eilean Glas lighthouse built 1789, now automated and still in use.

Do[edit]

  • Climb 1 Clisham, which at 799 metres (2621 ft) is the highest mountain and only "Corbett" in the Outer Hebrides. The simplest ascent is from the crest of the A859 between Tarbert and Ardvourlie (Aird a' Mhulaidh), and head up the southern shoulder.
  • 2 Scaladale Centre, Aird a' Mhulaidh HS3 3AA, +44 1859 502502. M-Sa 09:00-17:00. This is a residential outdoor activity centre for young people, open all year, on A859 near the boundary between Harris and Lewis. It's often block-booked by groups, but may have availability for bunks and for activities such as mountain biking or sailing on the loch. Dorm £17 ppn.
  • Rhenigidale (Rèinigeadal) was only connected by road in 1990. Until then, the land route was the "Postman's Path" - a steep but firm hiking trail, not recommended for bikes. The way leads by the abandoned villages of Gearraidh Lotaigear (abandoned in the 1970s) and Molingeanais (abandoned 1964). Eventually the trail reaches the Tarbert-Scalpay road.
  • Drive or cycle the Golden Road, the switchback lane along the east coast from Tarbert to Rodel at the south tip of Harris.
  • Visit St Kilda. Kilda Cruises is based in Tarbert but in calm summer weather does day-trips from Leverburgh, see that page for this and other boat operators.

Buy[edit]

  • Bank of Scotland (Banca na h-Alba). Mon, Tue, Thu 10:00 - 15:00. bank with cash machine
  • A D Munro, Main Street. mini supermarket
  • John Morrison, Main Street. Newsagent and Grocers
  • Akrams General Store, Main Street. Household goods
  • 1 Harris Tweed and Knitwear Shop, Old School, Drinishader. See a display of weaving

Eat[edit]

  • AD's is a fish & chip takeaway on Main St.
  • The two hotels are best bet for dining.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 Isle of Harris Distillery, HS3 3DJ, +44 1859 502212, . Tours Mar-Oct M-F 12:00 plus May-Sept M-Th hourly. Distillery founded in 2015 produces Isle of Harris Gin and Hearach single malt Scotch Whisky - the latter is still maturing and won't go on sale until late 2020. Tour £10.
  • Mote Bar is within the Hebrides Hotel, open daily 12:00-21:00.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Backpackers Stop, Main Street HS3 3DJ, +44 1859 502163. Hostel with 3 dormitories, open March-Dec. You need to be out between 10:30 and 14:00. Dorm £22 ppn.
  • 1 No 5 Drinishader, Drinishader HS3 3DX (4 miles south of Tarbert), +44 1859 511255. Hostel and self catering cottages. Dorm £21 ppn.
  • 2 Rhenigidale Hostel, Burnside, Rhenigidale HS3 3BD (6 miles from Tarbert on foot, or 13 miles by road). A hostel run by Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust in this remote place. The hostel does not take bookings and has no phone. No shops nearby, so bring along food. Dorm £16 ppn.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Avalon, Hill House, 11 West Side, West Tarbert HS3 3BG (a mile west of ferry pier), +44 1859 502334. Good welcoming B&B. B&B double £70.
  • 3 Ceol na Mara, 7 Direcleit HS3 3DP (a mile south of Tarbert), +44 1859 502464. B&B in 20th century Hebridean house in croft land, gets rave reviews for its quality of service. B&B double £130.
  • Harris Hotel, Scott Rd, Tarbert HS3 3DL (west edge of village), +44 1859 502154. Reliable long-established hotel. B&B double £120.
  • Hotel Hebrides (formerly Macleod Motel), Tarbert HS3 3DG (by ferry pier), +44 1859 502364, . 21 en suite rooms, also has four self-catering apartments. B&B double £160.
  • Self-catering cottages include Collam Villa on Scott Rd, Tarbert.

Splurge[edit]

  • 4 Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, HS3 3AS (on B887 15 miles east of Tarbert), +44 1859 560200. Grand baronial pile built in 1867. Mostly catering to fishing & deer-stalking parties, with hire of rods, guns, ghillies, boats; but others will enjoy. You can be Laird of the whole show for some £35,000 a week. Half-board double from £370.

Go next[edit]


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